Battling The Blobby Beast

Jun 09
2010

All throughout my primary and secondary education, I never raised my hand in class. That’s a good 12 years of never asking to be called on. To do so was to invite the wrath of something more terrifying than any bully, more embarrassing than the rejection of any cute boy. If I slid my hand in the direction of the air, The Beast would descend upon me, paralyzing me with fear…

The mighty beast that consumed my self-confidence was known to me as The Wrong Answer. Countless times I sat in class, in high school in particular, believing I knew just what the teacher was getting at but the moment my body moved to reflect my knowledge, my brain would betray it, hissing, You don’t know you know the right answer!  What if you’re wrong? If you open your mouth right now, you’ll spew forth only stupidity and everyone will know! My arm would crumple, along with my dignity, and I would sit sweating in my seat, listening to another student get the answer right or wrong, secretly proving to me that The Beast was right.

Or wrong.  Sometimes The Beast was wrong.  Sometimes I did know the right answer, but then The Beast would raise an eyebrow at me and say, So why didn’t you raise your hand? and then continue gnawing on my pride like the gristle it was.

This is the most pervasive form of Twitchy Blobbiness in my life: The Twitching What if I look stupid Blob. Sometimes it’s cousin The Twitching What if I can’t do it Blob will come by for some target practice and the two of them will play ping-pong with whatever bit of courage I dare to display.  Sometimes they morph hideously into The Twitching You’ve got nothing important to say Blob. Of course, over the years, my beaten-down courage has healed and re-healed its bruises to stand ever so much taller each time The Beast slithers through the folds of my mind. I have, in fact, battled The Beast and won numerous times.

For instance, moving to NYC to pursue an acting career even though my B.A. was in psychology.  Or moving to L.A. to further pursue that career even though six years in NYC left me just as unknown as when I’d first arrived. Leaving a soul-less but steady day job to create my own home-based and unpredictable freelance copywriting business. Writing, producing and acting in my own one-woman show.  (Talk about your own personal fear factor. How many times in rehearsal did I spit at the script exclaiming, who wrote this shit?)

So I’ve got more than a few notches on my belt with The Beast’s name on them.  What I’ve come to realize is that my method of preparing for battle with The Beast is a lengthy one. Putting on my armor can take months of talking it through with friends, trying to move forward, failing, gathering courage, being encouraged, trying again, finding something to sabotage myself, overcoming it, learning that I have the power, losing the power and talking about it again and again and again until finally the damn chain mail suit is on and I’m slicing away at The Beast with my sword in hot pursuit of my goal.

In short, this is a long-winded way to explain why it’s taken me over a year to start this blog. And to give you a good example of – given all the right elements – one of the fears that I believe can turn any one of us into a Twitching Blob in a hot New York minute. But I’ve successfully dismantled The Beast – for now. He lays emaciated and exhausted, gasping for mercy. I refuse.

So while I have sweet victory for a moment, let me raise my hand. I’ve got something to say.  It might be right or it might be wrong. But either way, I’ll still say it.  And I’ll welcome the discussion that follows. Oh, and while I’ve got my hand up asking to be called on, let me do one other simple, yet very powerful thing: show The bitchy, blobby Beast my proud middle finger.

13 Responses to “Battling The Blobby Beast”

  1. Alfi says:

    Very good. I may steal it, providing I have your permission not to mention (on a public forum) that I am related to the author.

  2. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    I know exactly who you are, Alfi, and even though you're a relative, stealing isn't allowed. But you may *share* it to your heart's content.

  3. betty malicoat says:

    I respect the clear, wry telling of a very deep part of your mind. I read this with my own memories twitching around.
    I like the use of the word blob that can take any shape. betty

  4. Robert Webb says:

    Slay that Beast, it's just a burden anyway.

  5. Turner says:

    Binny:

    I had a similar Beast in college – but I avoided it in a totally different way – I over-prepared for every class with reems of unnecessary highlighted notes, extra reading, and summary sheets – just to make sure that I could ALWAYS be prepared, ALWAYS have the right answer on hand, IF, and only IF I was called on. I was perpetually exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed in my perfectionist quest. So while you and I sat next to one another in class, you sat there trying to be invisible, and I sat their trying to stay awake from my lack of sleep. It took me almost 40 years to finally give myself permission to STOP over-preparing, embrace the wonder of learning – and raise my hand to ASK A QUESTION instead. Turns out – asking a well though out question is significantly more powerful than stating the right answer – who knew? I think if we all asked more questions – and had the patience and discipline to listen carefully to the answers we get – we might be able to tune out the Beast.

    Question: If you had the chance to go back to College for another 4 years, would you – and what would you study?

  6. Meyers69 says:

    Interesting Turner, that you were so terrified and over-prepared and yet you still transferred to a (supposedly) more challenging school. My Beast was more prevalent prior to college, though he lingered with me gnawing at my ankles until I graduated, for sure.

    Thanks for the question! If the tuition and my mortgage were paid for, I'd absolutely go back. Fact is, I would go right back to psychology and sociology classes – in the past 20 years, there have been such a plethora of developments and studies and findings, that I'm sure I'm not up on all of them. I would also take every single class Sheldon Solomon taught, even if I didn't think I'd understand them. Oh, and creative writing classes. I'd also audition for every play, if they were open to letting an old person onstage.

    Anybody else? Would you go back to 4 years of college and what would you study?

  7. Turner says:

    Binny:

    I would LOVE to go back to college, live in the dorms, and do it all over again – but I would study all those things I was afraid to – or that didn't fit into my 'master career plan' – like Geology, Philosphy, Economics, Archeology, Religion, Human Anatomy, Political Science, American Lit, Art History, and the list goes on and on – and I would relish in the freedom to be able to study for the pleasure of it and not to maintain a GPA….

    Next Question: To Hug or Not to Hug – that is the question.

    A few weeks ago, in a sea of chamber of commerce, face painting and balloon animal booths, I saw a few teenagers at my suburban Town Day Celebration holding up a sign that said "free hugs". I laughed and started to walk across the park with my young son to partake – and my husband quickly stopped me, saying it was too creepy for children, and sent him the wrong message. Are we too caught up in the rights and wrong of personal space to enjoy the basic human instinct to be touched?

  8. Meyers69 says:

    I didn't really have a master plan, so I studied what I liked, mostly. I love the fact that you're posing questions, Turner, but if you're going to switch topics, perhaps you need to start your own blog instead of using up my precious online real estate. 😉 Or perhaps you're trying to give me some more blog ideas….? Hmmmm…I may steal it….

  9. Turner says:

    Bingo….!

  10. D.C. Douglas says:

    Yes, your battle preparations are quite lengthy and thorough. I'd be more respectful of them if my impulsive "fix it now" blob wasn't so damn loud. 😉

  11. Kari Kohl says:

    I seem to recall a cetain Freshman Year High School English class. I don't seem to recall that the beast had any power over you in the presence of a certain hot male teacher…….I was never affected by that particular blob, but it was embarrassing when he gave us quizzes on Shakespeare and I failed them despite having done the reading.

  12. Meyers69 says:

    Mzzzz. Kohl – I seem to recall being quite speechless in front of said male teacher, but quite verbose when in the safety of your house, drafting anonymous notes to him…with you. I also seem to remember you fleeing the scene when he finally, playfully, confronted us. That's when your particular blob reared it's ugly head, leaving me speechless in front of him once again.

Leave a Reply